Sega spot irks Nintendo

Nintendo of Canada has lodged a protest about a tv commercial that hit the air last month for competitor Sega of Canada.Believing the spot breaches the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, Nintendo issued requests to broadcasters and industry associations to have...

Nintendo of Canada has lodged a protest about a tv commercial that hit the air last month for competitor Sega of Canada.

Believing the spot breaches the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards, Nintendo issued requests to broadcasters and industry associations to have the commercial taken off the air.

Not meant to offend

Nancy Bassett, Sega director of marketing, says the commercial is not meant to offend anyone and she was not aware of any other complaints.

The commercial, created by Sega’s u.s. agency Goodby Berlin Silverstein of San Francisco, had not been pulled at press-time and was scheduled to run Oct. 25 to Nov. 15.

The commercial shows a man and woman watching insects killed by a bug zapper while a child plays with a Nintendo Game Boy hand-held video game.

The voiceover asks what kind of people would play Game Boy when they could play Sega’s Game Gear and cuts to a product shot.

Next, as the man and woman sit on a sofa, the man reaches into a jar for something that looks unappetizing, puts it into mouth and drools as he eats it.

Kind of person

The voiceover points out that the kind of person who plays Game Boy is the kind who would actually eat pork lips.

The sensitivity about the commercial comes from the portrayal of the man and woman as individuals who appear to be mentally disabled.

Susan Burke of the Canadian Advertising Foundation says there are no official consumer complaints, but adds she is aware it has been a source of discussion in the advertising and broadcasting industries.

Burke says the spot could not have cleared as children’s advertising because it is a comparison ad, and as an adult commercial, it is allowed to air until there are official complaints.

Refused to air

In the u.s., abc and cbs have refused to air the commercial, and nbc pulled it off part-way through its run.

Roger Kennedy, manager of advertising standards for cbc’s English network, says cbc is airing the commercials, although he admits he had problems accepting it because of concerns the spot might contravene the government’s fair competition guidelines.